Race: Vashon Island 50k

Runner: Nick Keenan

Race Date: 06/05/2021

Location: Vashon Island, WA

Results: 5:12

Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/5419971417/overview

3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?

  • Three-loop course, with a variety of terrain and flora
  • Super friendly Race Director and Volunteers
  • Good course to PR

Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you

One mile sections of dirt road and pavement – 5.5 times.

Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?

Many turns on this rolling terrain course. Standard roots and rocks for forested trails, no special traction shoes needed.

Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?

  • The start is three miles from my house – so a hometown favorite. Great first 50k race for folks.
  • Good access for spectators that want to drive around and either great at road-crossings or do a short hike in to great at mile-5 aid station. There’s a ten mile race as well, little overlap expect for the fastest of 50kers.

Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner

  • Car-ferry only from Tacoma, Southworth or West Seattle. There’s bus service to ~1/4 mile to the starting line, so you could save the hassle and $ of bring your car and just walk-on and bus.
  • As a June race, it can warm-up on laps 2 and 3, so keep up with hydration. There are some unshaded sections that can really heat you up.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

Even splits is so much more fun than going out too fast. Lap three can really be a drag if you’re hurting — as you know exactly where you’re at, as you’ve run the loop twice already.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

  • Road shoes are fine.
  • There is a community watermelon and water table at mile 4, supplementing the mile 5 and mile 10 aid stations.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

  • I’m bias as it’s local to me, but I think it’s beautiful. Wide soft trail around Fisher Pond. Winding and rolling trails in Island Center Forest.
  • No ‘views’ per say, and no water crossing.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

3k total elevation gain, no long climbs — all in 50-100 ft climbs.

Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?

Experience ultra runner is the Race Director, who does an amazing job. Great volunteers and outstanding finish-line food and beverages.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

There can be, but not usually.

Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.

  • Vashon can be accessed only by Car-ferry 20 min crossing from Tacoma, Southworth or West Seattle. Line for the ferry can be long in the summer, and you should get to the dock at least thirty minutes early! Short and easy drive from the dock.
  • Camping is available at the start, and there are few lodging options on island.
  • Plenty of restaurants and breweries in-town for post-race relaxing.

Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?

Standard stuff, but don’t rely on gels from them as the 10 milers can drain their supplies.

Weather and typical race conditions

Can be warm ~80 the last ten miles or so, given it’s June in the PNW.

Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next runner?

5 mile supply of fluids. No special shoes, no poles. Maybe a hat and sunglasses for the sunnier sections.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

  • Great to hang out at the start/10 mile/20 mile/finish.
  • Option to drive to the two road crossings at mile 3, 4, 13, 14, 23, 24. Can hike in ~1/4 mile to the 5/15/25 mile aid station as well.
  • Kid-friendly finish to have young ones run in the last 1/4 mile or whatever to the finish.

How’s the Swag?

Glass finisher’s medal. Great shirts for purchase.

The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?

Five stars, you know what you’re getting, great for both seasoned ultra runners testing out their speed, or someone trying for their first 50k

Training for your first ultra? Check out our 7 steps to get started towards you first ultra!